Gulf Coast States Brace for Hurricane Laura, Already a Category 4 Monster and Still Gaining Strength
The Southern coasts of Texas and Louisiana are bracing for a potentially catastrophic impact from Hurricane Laura, a cyclone that rapidly intensified from a managaeable Category 1 storm (74-95 mph winds) into a major and potentially devestating Category 4 monster (130-156 mph winds).
As of 5:00 pm Wednesday, Laura reached maximum sustained winds of 145 miles per hour and is expected to strenghten further still. Laura’s latest forecast puts it on a direct collision course with Southern Louisiana and Eastern Texas sometime Thursday morning, with maximum sustianed winds of 150 mph, before swinging northeast into Arkansas and tracing east. It has the potential to reach Category 5 (with 156+ mph winds) status before making landfall.
In a mere 24 hours, as it entered the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Laura became a dire threat to millions long the Gulf Coast, whose emergency services are already over capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After Laura whirls through the Bayou, the entire Appalachian region of the Interior of the United States may feel the remnants of Laura as it swirls back out to sea somewhere between the Virginia-North Carolina border and the New York City metropolitan area over Labor Day Weekend.
If Laura’s timing seems eerily familiar, recall that Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the costliest “natural” disaster in United States history that leveled New Orleans, reached hurricane status on August 25th, just like Laura, except that Laura has intensified at a much faster rate.
Katrina claimed the lives of 1,833 people (we think), and the storm’s total destruction of Gulf Coast communities rendered them uninhabitable for the better half of a decade.
Now, imagine a similar thing happening this week while the coronavirus pandemic wreacks untold havoc across the Southern States and has cost 177,000 lives.
The most deadly aspect to a hurricane is not the wind, nor the rain, but rather, the storm surge. Laura is expected to produce a storm surge of up to 13 feet.
Residents in Texas and Louisiana are under mandatory evacuation orders ahead of Laura’s impact.
Meanhile, Marco, an unprecedented simultaneous Gulf storm, made landfall Tuesday night in Mississippi after being downgraded to a tropical storm.